(Casey Harper, The Center Square) The U.S. Senate HELP Committee is expected Wednesday to vote on the nomination of Julie Su, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Labor, sending it out of committee and to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate confirmed Su to serve as deputy secretary for the federal agency in July of 2021, but she will likely face a tougher process to lead the agency this time around.
Critics say Su’s California labor policy is too far to the Left for the rest of the U.S.
“Appointing Julie Su to lead the Department of Labor would be an affront to American workers and taxpayers,” Rachel Greszler, a labor policy expert at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, told The Center Square. “Su’s record in California stands alone as reason to reject her nomination. As head of California’s Employment Development Department, Su failed to follow the state auditor’s advice, which resulted in massive stolen identities and billions of taxpayers’ dollars sent to criminals.”
Su faced a HELP committee hearing last week, where Republicans raised concerns about Su’s support of Assembly Bill 5 in California, a measure that would have banned independent contractor relationships in the state. The PRO Act, a similar legislative effort at the federal level, has gained support but not enough to become law.
“As secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Ms. Su was the chief enforcer of AB5 – a controversial law that dismantles the gig economy such as Uber, Door Dash, and Lyft, and removes the flexibility of individuals to work as independent contractors,” U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said during last week’s hearing. “Independent contractors, or freelancers, make their own hours and choose the type of work they wish to do.
“They are shielded from forced or coerced unionization that would strip that flexibility away. This has made eliminating freelancing a top priority for large labor unions who want more workers paying forced union dues.”
Democrats have boosted Su, pointing to her record helping American workers as deputy secretary in the Labor Department.
“Julie Su is a strong champion for workers everywhere. After years of exemplary public service to California and the nation, she is more than qualified to lead the Department of Labor,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., said at Su’s confirmation hearing last week. “As deputy secretary of Labor, and now acting secretary, Su has helped the administration add a record 12.6 million jobs to the American economy since President Biden took office. I’m confident that her service will fundamentally strengthen American labor in the years ahead and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting her nomination.”
The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council has vocally opposed Su’s nomination. The group sent a letter to Democratic and Republican leadership expressing similar concerns about AB5.
“Ms. Su’s actions and statements are clear in her desire to force self-employed, independent freelancers into employment relationships they do not want,” the letter said. “Small businesses – all businesses – count on individuals with independent businesses to conduct important projects and work that do not require full-time employees. Moreover, most of the entrepreneurs and free-lancers who conduct this work want to work this way – they want the flexibility and freedom that independent contracting offer.”
Big labor union groups have expressed support for Su, drawing familiar battle lines in this confirmation process.
“What’s most impressive about Su is that she understands the nuances of labor law so thoroughly and translates that knowledge to meaningful policy that changes lives,” the AFL-CIO said in an online petition to rally public support for Su.
Whether Su will be confirmed remains to be seen.
“Moreover, Su actively supported legislation that’s destroyed jobs and small businesses in California and as head of the Department of Labor, she would take California’s failed policies nationwide,” Greszler said.